What will new DA leader’s stance be?

2015-05-21 06:00

IT is going to be interesting to see how the newly elected Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Mmusi Maimane, is going to fare as the first black political head of what has predominantly been, a white-led organisation.

As a young leader I expect Maimane to sustain the DA stance on youth emancipation in the form of job creation and wage incentives that was stifled by the once united worker federation, Cosatu.

Not so long ago Maimane’s predecessor, Helen Zille, led marches in support of the youth subsidy, and in so doing faced the wrath of Cosatu.

Needless to say, our government, under the practical and flexible leadership of President Jacob Zuma, has always found itself having to accommodate the concerns of Cosatu when it comes to the issue of the wage subsidy, regardless of its intention and willingness to introduce such incentives.

Now that Cosatu’s leadership woes are rendering the federation weak, the government no longer enjoys the support of the DA in pursuing the youth development agenda.

I get the impression the DA may be inclined to focus attention on what seems topical or fashionable. For instance, not long ago it was been fashionable to talk about the proposed introduction of the aborted youth subsidy that would have seen government availing as much as R2 000 for each young person employed in the private sector.

Seeing that the ANC-led government was making headway in this regard, the DA rallied marches in the midst of Cosatu’s rumblings due to alleged fears that bosses would fire older employees if the wage subsidy or incentive to encourage business to employ young people came to pass.

Zuma’s government did not implement the wage subsidy in its original form as it proposed to instead view the grumblings of its major alliance partner i.e. Cosatu.

Then in came the former ANC youth league firebrand, Julius Malema, to the political fracas that is our country’s political discourse that sometimes seem wanting in quality and essence. He formed his own political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, which has invaded provincial and national Parliaments with gusto.

Unfortunately for the gullible youth, even though the main supporters of the EFF happen to be young, the issue of a wage subsidy or employment opportunities for the youth do not seem to be a priority to Malema and his comrades.

The focus of Malema and his cohorts has been the issue of Zuma’s Nkandla private residence that has security features which the EFF, public prosecutor Thuli Madonsela and the agile South African media have lamented over on the grounds that taxpayers’ money has been spent in a way they deem unacceptable.

Of course the issue of land grabs is another big issue that Malema is concerned about while ANC comrades are quietly availing unoccupied land to people who want to build houses and the real comrades that liberated this country are not making much noise about their achievements.

Not to be outshone by the EFF as newcomers in the boxing ring of verbal accusations that our Parliament is often reduced to, the DA asserted its right to raise its voice on the Nkandla matter.

Oh yes, Zille won a court ruling that the content of the so-called spy tapes that led to Zuma’s arms deal case being thrown out of court on the basis of alleged political interference that took place under former president Thabo Mbeki’s watch, be made public (as though there was something new to reveal).

Maimane does not seem to be deviating from the preoccupation of his predecessor i.e. to be seen to be the “voice of the voiceless” on matters that do not necessarily benefit the masses in a direct manner, such as sustaining the issue of the wage subsidy.

If Malema were to decide to raise the youth incentive matter or speak sharply about the plight of unemployed youth, Maimane’s DA would be quick to remind South Africans that the DA has always been concerned about that matter too.

In the meantime, the pragmatic and solutions-orientated ANC government is running youth skills development academies that give youths from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity of becoming employable or self-employed, providing them with experiential learning, internships, bursary opportunities and mobilising them to be community crusaders that take a stand against social ills such as drug addiction, alcohol abuse and the rape of women, children and gogos.

Let sleeping dogs lie, but the truth will prevail and the true leaders of the people will always stand upright regardless of challenges.

• Simphiwe Mkhize writes in his personal capacity.

As a young leader I expect Maimane to sustain the DA stance on youth emancipation in the form of job creation and wage incentives that was stifled by the once united worker federation, Cosatu

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